* hollering with cisneros

Human beings pass me on the street, and I want to reach out and strum them as if they were guitars. Sometimes all humanity strikes me as lovely. I just want to reach out and stroke someone, and say There, there, it’s all right, honey. There, there, there.

Sandra Cisneros, from ” Never Marry a Mexican”

 

After last week, I’ve been enjoying hitting the books on my exams list again. This week I’m revisiting the work of Sandra Cisneros. In rereading her short story collection Woman Hollering Creek, written after The House on Mango Street with a book of poems in between, it’s interesting to note echoes of Mango Street, at least in terms of formal music and spirit.

The above excerpt, for example, has the nuance and linguistic power of evocation of the best short pieces that make up The House on Mango Street. Yet, even in this excerpt, one can see that the stakes are different. Where Mango Street is a book of childhood, of youthful observation and insight, here the speaker is possessed of the wildness of adulthood. And it’s there in the language. The last sentence’s “There, there, there” evokes the strumming of a guitar in an almost tangible way.

It is in this evocation that Cisneros builds off her previous collection of stories and continues in the spirit of what Charles Baudelaire, in dreaming and defining the prose poem, described as “the miracle of a poetic prose, musical without rhythm or rhyme, supple and agile enough to adapt to the lyrical movements of the soul.”

Prose poem, flash fiction, short short, microcuento – whatever banner the lyrical movements happen under, the eye and heart are first to recognize the signs.

Rachel says that love is like a big black piano being pushed off the top of a three-story building and you’re waiting on the bottom to catch it. But Lourdes says it’s not that way at all. It’s like a top, like all the colors in the world are spinning so fast they’re not colors anymore and all that’s left is a white hum.

There was a man, a crazy who lived upstairs from us when we lived on South Loomis. He couldn’t talk, just walked around all day with this harmonica in his mouth. Didn’t play it. Just sort of breathed through it, all day long, wheezing, in and out, in and out.

This is how it is with me. Love I mean.

Sandra Cisneros, from “One Holy Night”

*

Happy hollering!

Jose

p.s. Check out a previous post on a Cisneros-inspired microfiction here.

* prose poem buzz & Max Jacob

Poem of the Moon

There are upon the night three mushrooms that are the moon. As brusquely as the cuckoo sings from a clock, they rearrange themselves at midnight each month. There are in the garden rare flowers that are small sleeping men, one-hundred of them. They are reflections from a mirror. There is in my dark room a luminous censer that swings, then two… phosphorescent aerostats. They are reflections from a mirror. There is in my head a bumblebee speaking.

*buzzoverkill*
*whatcha thinkin’?*

And because I like working in threes, here is one more foray into the prose poem – this time with the renown French poet Max Jacob.

In talking about prose poetry, one must always acknowledge the fact that the tradition began in French literature.  Here’s the quote from Charles Baudelaire that, if you haven’t run into it yet, will possibly make you a believer:

Which one of us has not dreamed, on ambitious days, of the miracle of a poetic prose: musical, without rhythm or rhyme; adaptable enough and discordant enough to conform to the lyrical movements of the soul, the waves of revery, the jolts of consciousness?

Since these famous words were given to the world, many have laid open their dreams and given back their versions of poetic prose.

The poem below is one of the first prose poems I read that really had me nodding my head saying: yes, that’s it, that’s what you do in a poem.  I love the way it captures that moment of jolt when you look closer at your surroundings and see something you’ve neglected to notice.

***

The beggar woman of naples

When I lived in Naples there was always a beggar woman at the gate of my palace, to whom I would toss some coins before climbing into my carriage. One day, surprised at never being thanked, I looked at the beggar woman. Now, as I looked at her, I saw that what I had taken for a beggar woman was a wooden case painted green which contained some red earth and a few half-rotten bananas …

***

Happy bananas!

Jose

* pic found here.